We all hate spam and get way too much of it, agreed? Now that we have that out of the way it is important to realize that if your email is spammy you risk your email not getting through to the intended party.
Two factors are at play here — sending email with red flags that trip spam filters and not reviewing your trash before you empty it.
I have clients who send me bounce-back messages reflecting their emails were being returned. They erroneously automatically assume it is their server that is not operating properly or "something is broken". The fact is their emails are being blocked because their emails are spammy!
You need to be aware of certain issues so that your email will not be inadvertently incorrectly perceived as spam. Several times each day, legitimate email make it into my junk/trash due to the sender doing or not doing certain things that trigger spam filters.
There are issues you need to be aware of so that your email has its best chance to make it to its intended party. ISPs, networks and spam filters have a constantly evolving list of criteria used to judge an email’s "spam score" to determine what email gets through or not. High spam score; your email is rejected or deleted.
Here is a simple checklist that you can use to help your emails not be mistakenly marked as spam and deleted or returned before read:
- Always include an appropriate, short and accurate SUBJECT:. Many times spam does not have a SUBJECT: or it is malformed without appropriate text. Some email programs auto delete subjectless email to Junk/Trash. You also want to avoid using the words: stuff, hello, hi, help or new as these terms may trigger spam filters.
- Type your subject with appropriate capitalization and structure. All lower case or all caps gives the impression of being spam, (or that you are lazy and lack education — neither is good).
- Refrain from using common terms abused by spammers in your subject and/or first paragraph of your email. You know what they are – you see them every day. Many spam filters track these terms and may inadvertently send your email right to Trash.
- Make sure your name is formally displayed in the FROM: field. Example: Jane A. Doe is correct. All lower case or lack of punctuation here indicates the lack of online savvy typical of spammers and that your email could be spam.
- Refrain from using any formatting just for the sake of doing so. Formatting text into fancy fonts, colors or bolding will trigger spam filters when combined with some of these other red flags.
- Do not embed background graphics, logos, your photo or other gratuitous files in your email. This is a huge red flag as that is how viruses can propagate! Emails are not meant to be a business brochure.
- When using any sort of spam software or filtering system, before you purge your trash, it doesn’t hurt to take a quick peak to see if any email is in fact from folks you know or recognize whose email was deemed spammy. When that happens add them to your approved senders or whitelist to prevent future problems.
The takeaway? Don’t look spammy! Communicate with the written word rather than relying on formatting, and point folks to your Website for any graphics you want them to view.
You can’t hate spam, but then do spammy things in your email that get’s them returned. You can’t complain about spam, then complain when ISPs, networks and software are identifying the typical signs of spammers in your emails causing yours to get deleted with the rest of the spam.
By keeping the above issues in mind, you increase the chances of your day-to-day communications getting to the intended person on the other side.